Sunday, November 7, 2010

what was that?!?

My husband was born in Texas, and for the latter part of his childhood, raised in Kansas. I blame that for most everything about him that used to irk me.

When we were young marrieds, he would sometimes hang up the phone from talking to his dad (his mom was deaf and never talked on the phone), saying “Well, pa says Grandma had a spell the other day.” This would be said in that Kansas twang which is almost impossible to imitate, not as attractive as the Texas drawl, which he would often exaggerate to be funny or just to bug me. “Good Lord,” I might say, “what happened!!!”

He would look at me puzzledly and utter “She had a spell, I said.”

I’m going to quit with the quotes now, because I’m too lazy but he and his dad would have not explored the topic any further than that. If I pressed him and threatened to hit him if he didn’t tell me exactly what happened, he’d say “Well, if he wanted me to know that I reckon he would have told me more but he didn’t.”

I’d ask, “Did she have to go to the hospital?” (I can’t really totally quit the quotes—I loved my English teachers too much).

“Didn’t say.”

“Did she fall down?”

“Didn’t say.”

There was nothing to do but drop it and hope she was still there the next time we visited.

This situation, I think, is akin to the one where as a treat he would take us to Baskin Robbins (this happened once, our only outing that he volunteered that I can remember really). He had the gall to order vanilla. Now I like vanilla, and French Vanilla is heaven, but still, in Baskin Robbins you do NOT order vanilla. I believe he did it just to make me mad. And it did, obviously, as I’m still talking about it 100 years afterward. It makes me certain that the ultimate divorce after 16 years was totally justified.

I’d like to tell you about our infrequent dinners out, but they make me too upset. I’ll just say it took superhuman effort to convince him we should do it, and then he would pout all the way to the restaurant so that by the time we were seated I hated him so much that I could barely eat. The wine went down pretty well though. Once I doubled his rage by seeing a restaurant that we should try instead of the one we were headed to—no changes in plan were allowed.

Something I regret to this day is that my son always wanted steak and we always made him order chicken because it was cheaper. I am so lucky that this boy still loves me. The only enjoyable thing about outings was that my daughter, who inherited my mom’s IT, would, even as an infant, discover from her high chair that she could see the chief cook at the grill or the waiter if he was the cutest, from her perch, and proceed to play peekaboo and flirt with that complete stranger who would fall in love with her instantly and give us the best service ever because of her cuteness.

I took a free right turn in Oklahoma once, which was forbidden there apparently, and when the dour cop stopped me, my daughter leaned forward from the passenger seat where she was buckled in to check him out (she was 3 maybe), and he said “You know, I’m just going to give you a warning because at least you’ve got that little darlin’s safety belt on.” [This was in the olden days before safety belts were even in all cars].

Where was I?

Oh. I had a “spell” myself the other day. I had just returned my mom to the assisted living place Saturday evening and had made a second trip to the car to get the rest of the packages there, and as I leaned into the trunk, I suddenly had double vision. And one vision was diagonally placed over the first, so it was truly impossible to sort it out. My first thought was that my glasses had slipped askew, and I straightened them, without good effect, and then I realized it was not fixable that way and my second thought was “Oh shit!”

Then there was extreme dizziness, and I stood there with my hand on the car until that passed. And I’m thinking, if I clap one hand over one eye, I’ll be able to drive home. The hospital where my mother had her care after her stroke is directly across the street from her assisted living home now, and her experiences there are still fresh in my mind. Going there was not an option. Going to any emergency room was not an option. I felt physically strong—just didn’t know where to run to.

After two minutes or so, everything went back to normal. By then I had almost accepted the idea that I was having a ministroke. When the dizziness passed, I stopped touching the car, and went in, said goodbye to my mother, and drove home. Rested Sunday, although I felt fine, except for a mild vertigo which I’ve had many times and it’s been diagnosed as benign positional vertigo.

Made myself an appointment with my doc (who I’ve never met because two or three docs have joined and left my healthcare organization since I’ve been in there). She does not think it was a ministroke, because I had no physical weakness. My BP and everything is normal. She checked out my reflexes which are normal. She said had I come to urgent care on Saturday, they would have done an MRI, but it was too late for that on Thursday when my appointment was. But I know from my mom’s experience that the MRI doesn’t show anything from a stroke until after about 36 hours. Still I liked what she was saying, so it was all fine with me.

She talked me into getting a flu shot, a pneumonia shot, and a tetanus shot. I did, but I urge you not to, at least not all at the same time. I was in terrible pain the next day—even my fingertips hurt—I assume this is the miniflu that many people experience after getting the shot. After I got home from work I swallowed two very old vicodin, hoping it would either stop the pain or kill me, and it worked fine and I was back to normal the day after that.

She ordered several lab tests for me, which I will get done in the next few days. Maybe. I hate this sort of thing. One is cholesterol which of course will be over the top.

I’ve discussed my spell with my boss who was almost as glad as I was that it didn’t seem to be a ministroke. Then he, at 10 years younger than me, told me about all the physical ills he’s having right now. Not only he, but several of our other [young!] docs are having problems requiring unexpected visits to THEIR doctors. He lives on super stress and lack of sleep. They all do, to one extent or the other.

I intend to go on as before. I marked the episode’s occurrence on my calendar and if it happens again, will consider what that means. I mentioned to my boss my handwriting deteriorating over the past few years, but he says that could be due to a tremor that develops at my age, but is not indicative of anything fearful (like MS, which usually strikes much younger people). Years ago I started to occasionally notice jagged light circles—an ophthalmologist told me these are migraine auras. I do develop the light sensitivity but, thank you Jesus, not the pain of a migraine. And the aura goes away after an hour or so.

Ah, the golden years. What fun.

I have thought, being a single woman, what will I do if I do become disabled? Being bound to a house separated by miles from busy relatives. How will I get along, if I do need help? The thought of assisted care living suddenly did not look like the tragedy that I considered it until now. My mother had to give up a busy social life, full of adventure, when she had her stroke. I’ve got nothing like that to lose, really. If I can work the TV remote, and still read, I think assisted living would not be awful for me. The staff at my mother’s place are delightful—she is never lonely there, and they joke and laugh with her always.

But I am not dead yet. The other day I had to help a most charming guy at work with his travel reimbursement. He is adorable and I’ve long enjoyed his humor and good naturedness. He is Hispanic, and talked about an earlier trip he’d made to Miami, and clasped his hand on his abdomen and mimicked salsa dancing, and it brought a flush to my innards, let me tell you because as every woman knows, the way a man dances directly reflects other things if you know what I mean, and I know you do, but my mode is to pretend not to notice such things (because I’m sure he knew exactly what he was doing at the moment). He was best buddy and cohort to my most fabulous soldier in the world and they would flirt with me shamelessly to see if they could get a rise out of me (and they did but I believe I hid it well, except for the fact that I may have turned fuscia on the surface in spite of my calm demeanor).

But on to other things. Perhaps the elections?

Years ago, I received a mail-in ballot. But I didn’t use it, being reluctant to do anything official outside of work hours like study the phamplets and I can vote in person on my way to work. So I stopped receiving them through the mail. Then, on the morning of November 2 while getting ready for work, I hear on the news that the county in which I live is the LAST one in Washington to offer in-person voting places, and the number of places available was drastically reduced. Now I was looking forward to this election because I am basically outraged at every candidate and wanted to vote for sure. And now, the day of, I wasn’t certain my usual voting place was available. In a panic I actually looked into the voting phamphlet that had been cluttering up my table for weeks, and yes, my regular place was still listed there.

Then there was a red/black/white combo dress that I wanted to wear on election day. Hadn’t worn it for ages because it’s always been too tight at the bodice, so I had long planned to cut of the top and make a skirt of it. It is polyester and stretchy and I had done this with another dress and it worked perfectly and no waistband was needed because it just clung to my hips naturally. I thought the red/black/white one would also, so I cut the top off, folded it at the waist until the length was right, and set off.

Well, this method didn’t work as well this time, as I discovered to my chagrin, while walking out of the church where I voted. In fact, I noticed the skirt was getting longer and longer as I walked to my car, and I put my hand in the pocket of my raincoat thinking I would grab the skirt from inside the pocket, but it got away from me, and hit the ground just as I got to my car. My hands were full with my purse and car keys, and I struggled to decide what to do first—unlock car, throw in purse, and then pull up skirt? Pull up skirt, then unlock car, etc.

Then I thought, “Well, this is a new low.”

Aren’t I lucky the parking lot was deserted—and the other two voters were still inside?

And when I got to work, I used an old diaper pin that I keep on my file cabinet keychain to secure the skirt to my slip in the front, and one of those pin-on military insignias (which was just laying in my office drawer for the past several years) to attach it at the back. So, obviously I must put a real waistband on this particular skirt when I get around to it.

Oh, one last thing—and anyone learning this for the first time will be very thankful to me. Just two days before the election, I found out from my phone company how to delete a voicemail without letting it play all the way through (some of those political messages were about 3-4 minutes long!). Delete on my phone is 7—if you hit 77, it stops the recording and deletes the message immediately. If only I’d known before . . .